Over recent years the fact that you are a knitter is no longer a shameful admission. Gone are the days of feeling like Mary no life if you spend your hours cosily sitting in front of the television knitting that new fluffy angora jumper.
Knitting books are bought by the dozen by the library, and new titles are pounced upon with glee. Being an avid knitter myself I have always found the whole knitting process quietly therapeutic. Lately you may have noticed that fiction writers have jumped upon the knitting bandwagon. These books generally revolve around a knitting group providing an outlet for woman to share their lives, and their passion for craft.
The knitting circle by Ann Hood finds Mary Baxter, a mother who has recently lost her child, unable to pursue the activities that used to be her primary source of comfort. She takes up knitting and joins a knitting circle in her hometown – not knowing that it will change her life.
Young Adult books have also joined the trend, with the series Chicks with sticks by Elizabeth Lenhard, about 4 friends who form a knitting club and support each other through the perils of growing up.
Not to be left out, Picture books for younger children are also starting to feature knitting. The scarves by Daniela Bunge is about a child who brings separated grandparents back together by knitting them scarves and inviting them to ice skate on a frozen lake.
Knitting in all these stories is seen as a way of healing, of bringing people together and also hopefully, creating something gorgeous
Back in October last year, I posted about Elizabeth I. The fascination continues. This week on TV One are TWO Elizabeth dramas – The Virgin Queen stars Anne-Marie Duff, and Elizabeth I stars Helen Mirren and Jeremy Irons and is being replayed (Friday 30 May and Saturday 31 May – TV One).
There is another new historical fiction work too – The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir on the travails of the young Elizabeth. Weir was known as a non-fiction writer (on subjects such as Mary, Queen of Scots and Eleanor of Aquitaine as well as Elizabeth herself) until her novel Innocent Traitor (about Elizabeth’s cousin Lady Jane Grey).
Also hot hot hot at the moment is Phillipa Gregory’s latest The Other Queen – on Elizabeth’s cousin Mary, Queen of Scots.
Mary is one of the great romantic heroines of history, and one with endless allure. I remember in the 80s hearing the song “To France” by Mike Oldfield, all about the lovely Queen of Scots.
Even now a new movie on Mary is in production (with Scarlett Johansson as Mary – in the 1500s again after “The Other Boleyn Girl”). I was more interested by the screenwriter – Jimmy McGovern of “Cracker” fame.
Mary’s life was filled with drama. Tall, beautiful intelligent and vivacious, she became Queen of Scotland when only 6 or 7 days old, she went to France as a 5 year old to live in the French court (she was pledged as the bride of the Dauphin), and later became Queen of France, she married Lord Darnley who was murdered, married the wild Bothwell, was the focus of Catholic plots – and the bane of her English cousin’s life, finally executed on Elizabeth’s orders after years spent in captivity.
And yet in a strange way she ended up the victor in the lifelong conflict with Elizabeth. The Virgin Queen of course died without a child to succeed her, and Mary’s son James, ended up the first Stuart King – ruler of Scotland and England.